Wally Wonders Why

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Traffic Guy on scooter parking

scooter park“Can more than one scooter park in a parking spot?  Are scooters allowed to park on the sidewalk if there is ample room?” The Herald digs for answers to a couple of burning questions in their article Scooter query requires clarification.

And now right to the legal answer.

State law gives motorized foot scooters the same access to roads as bicycles, however many local jurisdictions have added restrictions.

The more traditional Vespa-style scooter fits the legal definition of “motor-driven cycle.” Drivers must have an endorsement on their driver’s license and obey the same laws and requirements as motorcycle drivers, which includes not parking on sidewalks. As far as parking more than one scooter in a parking spot goes, the state doesn’t have a specific prohibition against it, but it might be good to check with the local jurisdiction.

So, now to the not so legal answer.

  • I’ve had people shoe me off an obviously well used parking area on a sidewalk
  • I’ve had people yell at me for taking a spot when there is a wide open sidewalk to park on
  • I’ve had police in Seattle ask me to park on the sidewalk
  • My brother was once ticketed for slowly riding across the sidewalk to park in front of his house.
  • When parking spots are few, I’ve shared spots with other cycles, only to have them take off before me, leaving me to receive sneers, jeers and an occasional comment, because with the other cyclist gone, it looks like I wasted a car size spot on a little scooter.
  • And then there was the time that I dove into the bushes to avoid getting run over by the driver of a car who darted into what looked to him like an empty spot, but really was home to both myself &  motorcycle.  No one hurt, but I wished I’d opted for illegally parking on the sidewalk.

So the legal and not so legal answers add up to you being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  And  even if the law is black and white, the black and whites seem to be either ill informed or they are playing the gray area.   Considering my experiences, the general confusion that probably led to this question, and even the answer which if reported correctly, means that the officer is ill informed, because last time I checked Vespa style scooters under 50cc didn’t require an endorsement.

I have never been pulled over on my scooter and have never been cited, so my parking advice, regardless of the letter of the law, is to be courteous, careful, safe and think of the other guys first.  You may still have to endure jeers, sneers and rude comments, but in my experience you will not likely run into trouble with the law.

3 Comments

  1. I ride a full-sized motorcycle, and here’s my philosophy.

    1. I am certainly entitled to a full-sized parking spot in a parking lot. Sneer at me all you want. I also get sneered at when I’m on the road, slowing down to make a right turn, and staying in the middle of the lane (as a car would), as motorcyclists who “courteously” move to the right to allow following traffic to pass often get run off the road or worse (staying in the middle of the lane before a turn is not only your “right”, it’s recommended by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation).

    2. I would not park on any sidewalk adjacent to a public street, and if I did, I should get ticketed.

    However….

    3. In shopping centers, I have not personally witnessed any enforcement of sidewalk rules in many years of riding. I’m probably not on proper legal ground here, but nonetheless I do the following:
    (a.) If it’s not a familiar shopping center, I take up a parking space, without even thinking about it.
    But…
    (b.) when it’s Costco, Wal-Mart, or Barkley Haggen, I feel “allowed” by the store’s owners to park in particular sidewalk locations (out of the main path of foot travel, of course) where motorcycles tend to congregate. I even talked to the shopping-cart guy at Haggen, and he gave me his blessing, for whatever THAT’s worth (probably not a whole lot)! Again, I probably have a ticket-liability there, but have never had anyone question it. I’ve also never been sneered at (at least not to my face) for doing it.

    “So, your Honor, THAT’S my story and I’m stickin’ to it!!”

  2. I thought traffic tickets could not be written in private parking lots like Barkley Haggen, Costco or Walmart? The company who owned the parking lot had the right to have you towed if they didn’t like your parking choice though. Is that correct?

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